Monday, May 20, 2013

Live Review - Portugal. The Man @ Irving Plaza

With just less than a month to go before the release of their seventh album, Evil Friends, Portugal. The Man took to the stage to a sold-out Irving Plaza to take fans into their new realm of music and reflect on the songs that got them there. After a viewing of George Melies' A Trip to the Moon flickered on a screen covering the stage, the caravan of members to Portugal. The Man walked on stage to The Righteous Brothers classic, "Unchained Melody," and while the audience could not figure out whether to sing along or laugh to what was happening, they knew as soon as the chords to the opening number, "Purple Yellow Red and Blue," they had to begin jumping around. It was the first gig to launch their new and very long tour in support of the Danger Mouse produced Evil Friends, and the bands first proper U.S. gig since appearing at Coachella last month.

While the revolving door of musicians has always been a constant in this band, on Monday night their latest incarnation sounded just as tight as the did when we saw them last year in Brooklyn. Backed by an addition drummer, a small choir of women, and members of New York City sci-fi rock band, The Dig, this was easily the loudest, fullest, and most colorful sounding version this band has put out. At some points singer John Gourley was drowned in the sound everyone was putting on, but that did not seem to hinder the moment for him nor the crowd, simply because everyone in front of him were screaming the words back to him. Digging deep within their massive catalogue, they reworked some of their better know material like "People Say," which included parts of Weezer's "Say It Ain't So," and "Sleep Forever" which featured parts of The Beatles "Hey Jude." Yet, everyone was there to hear a taste of the new material, and they did not disappoint. New tracks like "Evil Friends," "Modern Jesus," and "Atomic Man," all sounded spellbinding and with Danger Mouse looking on from the VIP section, he smiled like a proud father looking at his kids mature and grow on stage. Seeing that Mouse had saw and heard these songs from their conception in the studio and infancy to now watching them being performed live for the first time, his job was clearly done. While the stage was filled with musicians and instruments, it was sparse in comparison to other set designs the band has had in the past, however, with a light display that could fill a stadium or arena, it was clear that Portugal. The Man had bigger ideas for the small club.

After an hour on stage, they retreated to the wings and as they walked back for an encore, bassist and founding member Zach Carothers thanked the crowd for coming out and said, "This was one of the first big places we ever played, back in 2006 I think, we toured with Circa Survive, they are a great band, and this was one of the biggest places we were in. The biggest shows we have ever done in America have all been in New York City, so thank you for supporting us." With that, the audience let their feelings heard and screamed to show their allegiance, while this band gets ready for the long tour ahead, this audience was the pep rally they needed to hit the road.